At most colleges, it has become a tradition over the years to pack up the freshly primed, painted, sealed and filled coolers in order to travel across state lines for fraternity formals. The locations of these formals are always rented for several days and often take place anywhere from the beach, to the mountains, lakes, or even as far as Canada.
Fraternities at Miami University are no exception.
For several years now, nearly all Miami fraternities have trekked a majority of their members and their chosen dates each spring to the Great Smoky Mountains of Gatlinburg, TN. The area was always one that was safest for fraternity members and their dates, as they once they were there they did not have to drive. It was always convenient, as there are many resorts which can provide multiple cabins in close proximity to one another for the large group. Gatlinburg was just far enough away, with a beautiful view, to create an almost vacation-like atmosphere. However, these luxuries that Gatlinburg once was able to provide for fraternity formals is now no longer the case.
Over the past few years, many fraternities at Miami University have either chosen to change the location of their formals, or at least have considered doing so. This is due to the large number of growing issues that have arisen while Miami fraternity formals were taking place. Evictions, extreme costs for minor damages, noise violations, purposeful separation of fraternity cabins by the resort coordinators and aggression from police officers have created an increasingly hostile environment for fraternity members and their dates.
The most baffling of all issues that have arisen with the chosen location of Gatlinburg was the eviction of all cabins on Saturday evening during Phi Delt's formal (which I was a guest at) just this past weekend. The reason was not made abundantly clear as to why every single cabin rented by the fraternity was evicted, though some cabins were actually empty and/or causing no trouble for the resort. However, they did make it clear that everyone had 20 minutes to remove their things from the cabins and leave.
This was absolutely appalling, not because I am claiming there was no right to evict the cabins, because I will be the first to say that I am not sure if there was or not, but because this eviction took place on Saturday evening around 7:30 p.m. when the resort knew well that many of the members of the fraternity and their dates had been drinking throughout the course of the day. The options the fraternity members now had was not as simple as if just one cabin had been evicted, where the consequences were only as steep as a fine and uncomfortable sleeping arrangements on the floor of another cabin for the night. They were now left having to find a place to stay for the night, a way to get there, and calling their parents to let them know what was all happening -- all within a mere 20 minutes to handle the situation.
The Gatlinburg resort blatantly told the fraternity members not to drink and drive, yet they still put them in a situation where there was a lot of pressure to do so from the money constraints of now having to pay for a hotel and cab, as well as the strict time constraints they ordered. During the next 20 minutes, police officers were yelling at the fraternity members and their dates to hurry, stood outside the cabins, and made the overall environment of the situation heavily more hostile, despite the fact the members and their dates were entirely compliant.
Meanwhile, a few cabins away, another Miami fraternity formal was being held. There, the police came and aggressively gave noise complaints to the members of the fraternity, and threatened eviction of all cabins for them as well. They were not kind, welcoming, or in any way creating the traditionally chosen formal location of Gatlinburg to be a "resort."
Overall, I have a hard time believing I'm the only person extremely dissatisfied with the environment that Gatlinburg, Tennessee has come to offer for fraternity formals. The once-loved location offered so much for the members and their dates to have a wonderful weekend away from Oxford, Ohio, yet now creates nearly nothing but hostility. I think it's time that all fraternities take the step many already have, and relocate their formals next spring to somewhere entirely more welcoming, accommodating and less stressful. You only have four years in college, and therefore, four years in which you can enjoy formal with your fraternity; there's no reason it should be anything less than a resort.